Bounce houses, also known as moon walks or jump houses, popular at children’s parties, are being associated with an increase in pediatric injuries.
A report from the journal Pediatrics revealed that, nationwide, the number of bounce house injuries had increased a massive 15-fold from 1995 to 2010, according to The Chicago Tribune. That number, said researcher Dr. Gary Smith, actually doubled in the period from 2008 to 2010. In fact, across the United States in 2010, one child was harmed every 46 minutes in a bounce house.
“If you think of the curve, it’s almost like it’s just taking off,” said Smith, a pediatrician specializing in the prevention of injuries in children and adolescents. “And when we see that kind of shape of a curve in the area of public health, we consider that to be an epidemic,” he added, said The Tribune. Smith is also the president of the Child Injury Prevention Alliance in Columbus, Ohio.
Smith believes the rise in injuries correlates to a rise in the use of bounce houses; however, the team has not yet confirmed that, but were also unable to determine any other factors that could account for the increase, according to The Tribune. “We don’t have any information to suggest that parents are taking children to the emergency room more quickly,” Smith said. “Nor have bouncers necessarily become more dangerous,” he said. “We’re left thinking, simply, (that) children are using these bouncers more than they were in the past.”
As we’ve previously written, even repeated warnings from consumer safety officials and advocacy groups on the dangers of bounce houses has not slowed the rate of injuries. Study authors believe that increased awareness, including increased parental awareness, of bounce house dangers and how to prevent injuries will help slow the rate of injuries children suffer using bounce houses.
Some believe that the rise relates to the drop in bounce house prices, which makes the toys more affordable for those seeking to start a bounce house rental business. But, there is a difference in how the houses are made and experts say to be cautious when using or purchasing mass-marketed bounce houses that do not meet commercial standards, said The Tribune. Also, when renting, verify that the rental company has insurance and workers received appropriate training, a challenge given the lack of regulations in many states.
Scott Wolfson, director of communications at the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, noted that ASTM International, which provides safety standards for various products, does set guidelines for bounce houses, said The Tribune. Wolfson pointed out that under the Consumer Product Safety Act, the Commission is unable to pursue regulatory rule making should an adequate voluntary standard be in place as is the case with ASTM International and bounce houses.
The average age of a child injured using a bounce house is just 7.5, the study found. Twenty-eight percent of injuries reported were bone fractures, the most common injury cited. Strains and sprains comprised 27 percent of the injuries. Concussions, other head injuries, and minor cuts were more commonly reported among boys than in girls and about 3 percent of all injuries suffered in bounce houses and moonwalks required hospitalization or emergency care for treatment and observation. Most injuries suffered while using bounce houses and moonwalks occurred when children collided tor fell on top of one another. Falls prompted most of all these injuries.